'Jerry Springer' May Be Unholy, But Sales Are Divine

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, July 25, 2008

If you want your protest march to stand out in the jaded nation's capital, you've got to bring some serious showmanship. A Catholic group out of Spring Grove, Pa., did just that when 30 members rallied Wednesday outside the Studio Theatre to protest the opening of " Jerry Springer: The Opera":

White robes. Red capes. "Hail Mary" chanted through bullhorns. Bagpipes -- in the rain! For theatergoers, it seemed the show was starting early on the sidewalk out front. For some passersby, it was enough to inspire them to buy a ticket -- and help the show sell out.

"I thought, if they're protesting it that much, it's got to be good," a tourist from Florida passing through the neighborhood told our colleague Anne Midgette.

Actually, the folks from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property just call it straight-up blasphemous. The spoofy musical riff on daytime trash TV features talk show host Springer going to Hell to tape an episode with the Devil, Jesus, Mary and God. Jesus is half-naked, obese and spoiled; Mary is a dowdy housewife. There are Crucifixion jokes, Eucharist jokes, the singing of "Jerry eleison" (instead of "Kyrie eleison") and other bits we really don't feel comfortable describing in a family newspaper. At the end, Springer emerges as the savior of mankind.

Hey, that is kinda blasphemous, isn't it?

"This production is a parody, with tongue firmly in cheek," director Keith Alan Baker told us. "No disrespect is intended."

Despite receiving "thousands" of angry e-mails in the past week, "we didn't have an inkling there would be a protest," said Morey Epstein, a Studio Theatre senior manager. The group had its permits, though -- along with a statue of the Virgin Mary flanked by two men in white knee-length robes topped with black tunics, and others in suits and matching umbrellas who scrambled to protect the statue from the pouring rain.

It was an encore performance for the 30-year-old religious organization, which has also protested "Jerry Springer" productions in N.Y.C. and Cincinnati. President Raymond Drake wasn't troubled when we told him his protest helped sell tickets. Their demonstrations "have turned many away from going in," he told us via e-mail. "Uncountable others saw their faith strengthened by our public witness."


"That's not really up to me. But I wouldn't resist."

-- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on getting another presidential shoulder rub from either Barack Obama or John McCain, like her friendly chair massage from George W. Bush at the 2006 G-8. That minx!


Special VIP lawsuit edition.

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